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Summer Serenade - BSN/PN

Composer: Schickele, Peter

Publisher: Presser

Edition: 11695


Summer Serenade
for bassoon and piano
by Peter Schickele (b. 1935)- American composer
I. Dreams
II. Games
III. Songs & Dances
When I was twelve or thirteen I started fooling around on the old clarinet my mother used to play in college, and when it became apparent that my interest was more than passing, I was taken to see Bertram McGarrity, a fine clarinettist who taught at Morehead State Teachers College and played in the Fargo-Morehead Community Orchestra. he listened to me for a couple of minutes and said, "Peter, you've already got so many bad habits on the clarinet that it would be easier for you to start on another instrument," and he suggested the bassoon. Much later I realized that he had an ulterior motive; the community orchestra was very active and enterprising, but there were no bassoonists in town. 
This it was that I began my short reign as Fargo-Morehead's only bassoonist; when Meer Osterfield, a fellow student at Central High, took up the instrument a year or two later, we became the bassoon section of the orchestra. The bassoon is, of course, one of the few instruments of the orchestra that sticks up above head level, and Meyer and I reacted very emotionally to the music, with the result that the conductor finally had to ask us to stop swaying around so much - the constant bobbing of the bassoons was distracting to the audience. 
The other main bassoon memory of my Fargo years isn't so pleasant; I was a member of the high school band, which meant not only that every note I played was doubled by some other instrument (usually a saxophone), but also that I had to play in the marching band. The idea of marching in a parade, as I once did, when the temperature was 10 degrees above zero, chewing up a $5 reed (I never learned how to make my own) playing an instrument that nobody could hear - somehow it never appealed to me, and, in fact, it helped to turn me off band music for years.
But I loved the instrument itself, and played it for about a decade (from junior high through high school and Swarthmore College), giving it up only when I reached the Juilliard School of Music, which boasted real bassoonists, i.e. players who knew how to make their own reeds, owned their own instruments, and practiced regularly. 
I started Juilliard in 1957; the Summer Serenade wasn't begun until 1983. Why did I wait so long to write a solo piece for "my" instrument? Good question. I don't have a good answer, but after finishing a commissioned work, the Spring Serenade for flute and piano, I immediately started working on the bassoon piece, and conceived the idea of writing a set of summer serenades for the principal woodwind instruments, one for each season. Six years later I revised the Summer Serenade mostly with an eye towards giving the bassoonist's chops more R 'n R time during the piece. The work was completed in 1989, and premiered by Rob Weir and Robin Sutherland in Telluride, CO on August 17th.
-Peter Schickele
Duration: 13:00